Partnering with other businesses is a great way to increase your profile withing the community, grow leads, and ultimately increase your flow of new patients. It can also be a means to extending your branding and positioning by aligning your practice with prominent local businesses.
When setting out to form business partnerships, it’s important to consider it as a part of your marketing plan, and ensure you’re going about it strategically.
Objectives of partnerships
Most practices enter into a partnership for two reasons: to increase patient flow, and to work with other businesses that align with their values.
Partnership arrangements need to have a certain level of balance and synergy. If someone’s getting the short end of the stick, it’s likely that relationship won’t last very long and may even prove to be detrimental.
Whether it’s a referral partnership, sponsorship, or some kind of discount program, you need to consider what you want as well as what you can give.
Types of partnership
Business to Business; this is the most common within the dental industry, where you join forces with another local business to improve patient flow. This doesn’t necessarily have to be another healthcare business, it could be a café or hairdresser or anything really.
Business to community; this refers to some kind of charitable arrangement to enhance your relationship with the community. Perhaps you give free toothbrushes to the local pre-schools, or have a community outreach program.
Community to business; this would be your classic sponsorship situation. As a local dental practice, you might choose to sponsor your local football team or netball team. This is still a mutually beneficial arrangement, but it does tend to favour the community side and have an altruistic undertone.
Referral partnerships are slightly different, in that they serve a more specific purpose and are within the dental industry.
The goal of a referral partnership is to forward your patient on to someone who can provide more specific care, with the intention of getting your patient back at some point to maintain ongoing care.
On the other hand, if you’re a speciality practice looking to gain more referrals, you might need to be a bit more proactive about getting your name out there. SEO is obviously key, you want the referring practitioner to be able to find you relatively easily. Another great tip is to join dental associations and networks, so you’ll be listed as a local provider and other professionals can track you down.
How to create an offer
Most people immediately think of a discount, and while it may be a valid option, I’d encourage you not to leap to that and offer it right off the bat.
Other fantastic offers might be extended hours care, free parking, no lock-in contract, priority bookings, courtesy car drop-off if they have a treatment that affects their ability to drive.
There’s no limit to what you can offer, really take the time to think creatively about what would really stand out as a “WOW” offer for your future patients. What solves their problems? What stands out from the crowd? What makes sense with your branding and image?
Set expectations and manage risk
People work at different speeds, so ensure you’re on the same page about your timeline for getting the partnership up and running. It’s also important to have a mutual understanding when it comes to the kinds of results you can expect to give one another. A great partnership is a marathon, not a sprint.
Not to rain on your parade, but we do need to have a think about the potential risks involved if this partnership were to end differently than we planned. Set some goals, map out how you’d like this relationship to progress and build it into your annual plan to ensure you give the partnership the attention you deserve.
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If you’d like to work directly with me and my team to take your profit from 6 figures to 7 figures …. just send me a message with the word “Private”… tell me a little about your practice and what you would like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details! – Click here